A strong employer brand helps your organization create a reliable, sustainable hiring pipeline.
From the values you stake out in your branding message to the candidate experiences you create, your reputation as an employer can be a major competitive advantage when you recruit top talent.
Increasingly, companies are integrating technologies like artificial intelligence to support the work that goes into that brand-building. In fact, AI has taken on a central role in contemporary employer branding.
Below are four ways its application improves recruitment, employer brand messaging, and the overall candidate experience.
An early and successful use of artificial intelligence in recruiting was candidate screening. For positions in which there are hundreds or thousands of viable candidates, manual screening becomes an overwhelming task. AI, however, can screen hundreds of candidates in seconds.
But AI’s big benefits to recruiters extend far beyond saving time with rote tasks. Its real value to employer branding is in its ability to match the skills and abilities of all the candidates in a given pool with the skills and abilities needed to excel in a given role.
This gives HR teams the ability to network and to build candidate relationships at scale, writes Gabor Varjasi, global HR director for GBS Finance. Candidate-management tools allow recruiters to manage any number of candidate relationships, which can be leveraged as soon as the right job opens for the right person.
Such tools can create ideal-candidate profiles for each new vacancy by scouring data on current and past employees to diagram what success looks like in a given role — and what skills, capabilities, and experiences set someone up for that kind of success.
This is a boon to employer brands because candidates quickly learn which employers know how to connect them with opportunities that are a good skills match. Over time, that becomes a strong competitive advantage for recruiters.
Further, AI-powered screening software “give[s] employers a true bird’s-eye visibility of the candidates coming in, their potential at the organization, and retention/attrition possibilities based on historical records,” writes HR Technologist contributor Chiradeep BasuMallick. With that kind of perspective, an employer can begin to make wholesale improvements to its recruiting, hiring, and retention policies.
AI can do more than reinforce candidate relevancy at the job level, too. It can help employers plot and build out a whole series of touchpoints — of candidate flows — that help qualified candidates see themselves reflected in the roles that are right for them.
Bryan Chaney at the Talent Brand Alliance underscores how important it is to think of touchpoints in the plural. “Candidates don’t make a decision to apply based on one job ad; they do it based on multiple touch points where they find consistent and relevant information about the actual experience and values of the employees and the employer,” he writes.
That said, the vacancy you post could very likely be someone’s first touchpoint with your company and its employer brand, Gracjan Gozdz at the recruitment agency Tap.Talent writes. “So right off the bat, you have to leave a great impression by writing a job description that converts jobseekers into applicants.”
Employers can make that strong first impression by personalizing their career sites to each individual user. When the candidate uploads their resumes, the personalized career site will show them the jobs that best match their skills.
We’ve found this is a great way to encourage applications from underrepresented applicant groups — which brings up one more important aspect of an employer brand.
Scrubbing Out Hiring Biases
Organizations that only hire people with a certain profile can develop a reputation for being unfairly exclusive, even if that tendency toward exclusivity isn’t intentional. Even something as seemingly benign as a recruiter saying, “Oh, we went to the same school!” can bias hiring outcomes, to the detriment of the company.
There are a few ways in which AI helps create fairer, more equitable hiring processes. First is candidate anonymizing, in which hiring software hides information about a candidate such as their age, their gender, their ethnicity, where they’re from, where they went to college or any other factor that could trigger a bias.
Further, AI can be used to audit a company’s recruiting practices. Shervin Khodabandeh, co-leader of Boston Consulting Group’s AI business in North America, spoke about this to Quartz for an October 2020 article.
“One of the things good AI algorithms will do is tell you where your biases are,” Khodabandeh said. “You’ll look at it and realize, I’m already favoring certain attributes unjustly and irresponsibly or unethically without even knowing it.”
With those insights, the organization can make necessary corrections so that qualified candidates aren’t unfairly excluded from the next round of hiring.
Again, this is something that candidates (and others) will take note of.
Consider the case of the real estate company Zillow, which began using an AI tool in 2016 to verify that its job ads were written in bias-neutral language. Tech reporter Nicole Lewis has the story at SHRM. After two years of using that tool, Lewis reports, the company saw an 11 percent increase in the number of female job applicants.
“The language that we choose can either make or break our connection with a job applicant,” Zillow VP of Recruiting Annie Rihn tells Lewis in the same article. “People will self-select into a process or self-select out of a process based on the language we choose in a job description.”
Using Chatbots to Shepherd Candidates Through the Experience
Chatbots have become one of the most visible applications of recruiting AI.
Rightfully so, too. Chatbots are great at helping people navigate several aspects of the hiring process, whether that’s completing the initial application or getting a new hire onboarded. Specifically, chatbots can be deployed to do the following:
- Collect information on candidates.
- Ask candidates initial screening questions.
- Answer candidates’ frequently asked questions.
- Help candidates schedule in-person interviews.
Candidates expect to interact with chatbots, and companies that deploy them thoughtfully make a good impression, Prārthanā Ghosh writes at HR Technologist. “The initial processes of sourcing and screening tell an employee a lot about the organization.
“The point is not to have AI in place that tricks candidates into thinking that they are being catered to by a human recruiter. Rather, the point is to use AI solutions that make it easier for the organization and the right talent to connect, communicate and collaborate.”
In 2017, developer George Perry wrote about how his then-employer, Dialect.ai, built a chatbot-based hiring process for recruiting graduates. The team learned several valuable lessons from the project, including how useful chatbots are at filtering unqualified or uninterested candidates even before they sent over a resume and cover letter.
For interested candidates, the chatbot created a new medium for engagement. The messages just before inviting the candidate to submit a resume and cover letter “was an opportunity to upsell the role, conveying a tone of voice that cannot be communicated on traditional job sites,” Perry wrote. “At this stage of the conversation, the candidate could really get a feel for the company’s mission and what environment they would be entering if they were successful.”
In the years since that example, chatbot technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Most notably, the millions of conversations that have taken place since have taught contemporary chatbots how to navigate conversational nuance.
“Advanced bots account for this by allowing users to pause a task, start, and complete another task, and then seamlessly return to the original task — all without losing important contextual data and conversation continuity,” Kore.ai’s Melanie Sovann writes.
And this continuity — continuity of the conversation and the candidate experience as a whole — helps solidify an organization’s employer brand. By building a reputation of fairly connecting qualified candidates to roles in which they can succeed, a company gives itself a sustained advantage over other employers as they compete for talent.
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